3 Things You Need Know About Empty Nest Syndrome

Even though life can be full of unexpected changes, not as in the case of empty nest syndrome -a phenomenon characterized by emptiness and sadness which all parents must be always set to embrace.

Empty nest syndrome isn’t a clinical diagnosis, but a post-parental period, boredom and the feeling of loss when children-turned-young-adults begin to move out of the family home, either for school or to settle on their own.

Imagine the feelings, when you being the first kid of the family move out at age 18. Parents might be finding it hard to believe you could adequately take good care of yourself. Or being the last child of the family, bidding goodbye to mum and dad.

Profound sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression could set in.

The popular global health insurance service company, CIGNA HealthCare postulated that family life cycles have five stages:

  1. Independence from your parents
  2. Settling down with a partner
  3. Becoming a parent to your own children
  4. Launching your adult children into their own independence stage
  5. Your retirement years

Although this grief of separation is serious, but there are things you must know in order not to be caught aware by this transition from full house to an empty nest, and as well as to get over the difficulty in adjusting to an empty nest. Indeed, there abounds some things no one ever tells you about this post-parental period.

Empty nest can promote relationships.

In a research carried out by Psychologist Karen L. Fingerman PhD, author of Aging Mothers and Their Adult Daughters; students were surprised on how his research proved them wrong.

Students always think their parents are doing worse now that they’re gone. Of course, you want to think that when you move out, your mom must be devastated, but that’s not validated by the research.

Fingerman’s study indeed prove that parents feel a sense of loss when their nests empty, but, increased satisfaction and improved relationships do occur.

An unprecedented number of mothers now work outside the home, giving them a role beyond that of parent, Rebecca A. Clay wrote in the American Psychological Association journal.

Read also > Why Ostracism Hurts

In his 2000 research published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Vol. 55, No. 2). Fingerman says:

The empty-nest syndrome doesn’t exist in the way it has been portrayed in the popular literature. People do miss their children, but, based on what I’ve seen in my research, what happens is actually the opposite of the empty-nest syndrome.

People may worry about losing their child when the child leaves home,” says Fingerman.

In fact, they’re not. They’re going to have a more mature, more emotionally meaningful and deeper relationship with them to look forward to.

Motherhood is an evolution.

Distance doesn’t have to be a barrier for you being a mother to your children, now the little decisions you once help them make has given way to bigger life decisions. Dr. Phil McGraw, a Los Angeles mental health professional recommends parenting from a distance and in a different way.

Say, ‘I’m not going to stop being their mom, I’m just moving to the next phase. I’m going to start being their resource, I’m going to be their soft place to fall on the phone, on weekends and I’m going to become a mentor in a different phase in their life.’ It’s just ever changing. You’re not going to stop being an involved mom, you’re just going to change phases.

Read also > Having controlling parents may affect your later relationships

The Empty Nest would be refilled.

Linda L. Bips, EdD, an assistant professor of psychology at Muhlenberg College in Allentown Pa  reports huge increase in parental involvement in college students’ lives.

Parents are much more involved with their children now. At Muhlenberg, an ever-increasing number of parents are attending their children’s plays and sporting events, becoming part of the parents’ association and finding other ways to continue their involvement in their children’s lives,” reports Bips who is the author of Parenting College Freshmen.

Robin, Dr Phil’s wife cautioned that our children aren’t moving away from us, but are moving toward their own life. She added that, to deal with not physically seeing your child, consider getting computers with web cams, rather than demanding visits from them which might obstruct their success whenever they notice how bad empty nest is treating you.

Read also > Emotional Problems of the Adolescence


  • Grange, Helen. “How to cope when your kids leave home.” Independent Online. April 28, 2011. (May 9, 2011) http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/family/how-to-cope-when-your-kids-leave-home-1.1061877
  • REBECCA A. CLAY. “An empty nest can promote freedom, improved relationships” http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr03/pluses.aspx
  • Dr Phil. Parenting: Empty Nest. http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/105

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